It has been a great opportunity to share my story, Evan’s story, on CNN for Mental Health Awareness month. You can read it here. The response has been great – 31,000 shares on facebook and counting.
I’m amazed by the 1,274 comments that reflect our understanding as a society of suicide and mental illness. There are people that get it and people that don’t.
I’ve read comments by people who are living with mental illness and people who have survived suicide attempts to thrive in their lives today. These people have shared compassion with each other and it’s an amazing thing to witness. I’ve read comments by my fellow survivors of suicide loss. The understanding we share is one that comforts me in my feelings of being misunderstood and alone.
I also received concerned feedback about the headline of my story. Every survivor carries a shattered heart and with it guilt, anger and shame. While my soul may not ever be at peace with my brother’s suicide, my intention was not to showcase my guilt but to educate. Suicide is preventable. My misconceptions made me an accomplice, but you have the chance to be a better caregiver. All of us have the opportunity to hold those who are suffering with compassion, not shun them with stigma or hurt them with our half-attempts at helping.
I also know this to be true. Sometimes, all the love and attentiveness in the world cannot save someone we love from dying. You can take someone to counseling, but they can lie. You can treat someone for cancer, but their body can’t survive it. Accidents happen that you could never have controlled.
Four years out from by brother’s suicide, I have found some consolation in knowing that my neglect did not led him to suicide. I can clearly see that Evan suffered an illness that took him from this world against his will. He did not sin, he was not weak, nor did he make a choice.